What is rosacea?

Causes of rosacea

Rosacea appears to be caused by a complex interaction of many factors.

  • Genetics: rosacea tends to be more common in families, especially those of northern European descent. A genetic change seen in people with rosacea can predispose to inflammation of the blood vessels and skin follicles of the face.
  • Environmental factors can trigger inflammation of the blood vessels in the skin and lead to rosacea outbreaks
  • There may be increased numbers of the normal skin mite Demodex folliculorum or an imbalance in the organisms in the gut
  • In rosacea, the skin barrier may not function effectively, leading to water loss and dry skin
Rosacea affecting a woman's cheeks, nose and eyes
Rosacea affecting cheeks, nose and eyes. There is a combination of redness, prominent blood vessels and pimple-like papules.

Symptoms of rosacea

Rosacea is more than simply a cosmetic concern. Rosacea has many different combinations of symptoms. For most people with rosacea, the facial skin condition is usually lifelong, and symptoms will come and go over many years, requiring repeated skin care treatments. There currently isn't a cure for rosacea, but treatments can be an effective way to relieve symptoms. Treatments are usually effective for months to years, but constant attention to skin care is necessary and occasional maintenance treatment is required to control rosacea symptoms.

Symptoms of rosacea include:

  • Facial redness with constantly red cheeks or nose
  • Episodes of increased blood flow in the face, causing uncomfortable and embarrassing flushing
  • Prominent blood vessels on the face, visible as a fine network of overgrown red capillaries (sometimes called "spider veins")
  • Small pimple-like lumps, which may resemble acne
  • Sensitive skin
  • Sore and red eyes
  • The skin may be dry or oily
  • Rosacea over many years can lead to rhinophyma— overgrowth of the skin of the nose — with a bulbous, misshapen appearance. This is more common in older men.

Symptoms of rosacea are commonly caused by triggers such as heat, exercise, alcohol or spicy foods. For more information, see our Rosacea triggers page.

What are the options to treat rosacea?

The best treatment for rosacea is by using a combination of skincare with low-irritant products, minimising exposure to triggers, topical or oral medications and light-based treatments such as laser or intense pulsed light (IPL).

The following treatments are available at Spot Check Clinic:

Laser rosacea treatment

Laser and intense pulsed light (IPL) treatment (we refer to both as “laser” treatments for convenience) can help reduce persistent redness and visible capillaries. Laser treatment uses a very bright light applied directly to the skin to destroy overgrown facial blood vessels.

Laser or intense pulsed light (IPL) is the best treatment to remove or reduce the appearance of capillaries on the skin.

Laser treatment can also be effective in managing other intermittent symptoms such as flushing, redness, skin irritation and sensitivity. In cases where laser does not reduce these symptoms, a course of oral or topical medication is usually recommended for treatment.

Laser treatments can also treat sun damaged skin or cosmetic concerns such as facial freckles and angiomas.

Before and after photos

Woman's face before and after IPL treatment for rosacea, showing improvement in redness of the nose and cheeks
Rosacea before and after treatment with BBL (the IPL laser we use at Spot Check Clinic). Image courtesy of Sciton Inc.

For more before and after photos and information about treating rosacea with laser, IPL and broadband light, see our page about IPL treatment for rosacea.


Prescription creams and oral medications are helpful in managing flushing, redness and inflammation of the skin but unlike laser treatments, cannot effectively treat facial blood vessels.

Prescription creams

Topical skin treatments (creams or ointments) usually need to be applied once or twice daily for up to three months. Topical medications commonly prescribed for rosacea include antibiotics, medication to kill skin mites, or anti-inflammatory products.

Oral medications

Oral medications are often prescribed if topical rosacea therapy is not effective. These rosacea medications may have side effects and are not always safe to use during pregnancy or breastfeeding, so they are not usually recommended as first line treatment.

More information

If you have questions about which treatment is best for your type of rosacea, you can book a consultation at our clinic (New patients | Existing patients)

For more information about medications for rosacea, see our page Treating rosacea on the face.

Managing your rosacea

Controlling rosacea outbreaks on your skin requires more than laser treatment or medications.

It’s important to look after the skin carefully and minimise exposure to triggers that make rosacea worse.

Your skin care routine

A healthy rosacea skin care routine follows three basic principles:

  1. Avoid substances that irritate the skin(fragrances, alcohol-based products, harsh and drying soaps, some-mineral make-up
  2. Protect the skin from ultraviolet radiation by using a low-irritant sunscreen on your skin every day
  3. Use skin products that help settle inflammation and reduce redness. These include moisturisers and cleansers containing nicotinamide, colloidal oatmeal, aloe vera, panthenol, gingko biloba and bisabolol (chamomile extract). Anti-oxidant products such as vitamin C and green tea can also reduce rosacea symptoms.

For more information about rosacea treatment, see our article about Treating rosacea on the face

Knowing your rosacea triggers

Many different triggers can lead to rosacea facial flare-ups. These can include sun exposure, exercise, alcohol and certain foods and drinks.

Once you identify triggers to rosacea, avoid or minimise exposure to them as much as possible.

For more information about rosacea triggers, see our article on Rosacea triggers

Rosacea treatments at Spot Check Clinic, Melbourne

Spot Check Clinic offers treatments for skin cancer and sun-damaged skin, but rosacea is a condition seen very frequently in people attending our Melbourne-based clinic.

Our skin doctor has qualifications in primary care dermatology. You don’t need a specialist referral from your GP to book a consultation with our doctor.

Rosacea treatments offered at spot Check Clinic include:

  • Prescriptions for topical creams
  • Prescriptions for oral antibiotics
  • Intense pulsed light therapy using BBL (broadband light) IPL technology which usually causes less pain and downtime after treatment compared with laser
  • Low level light therapy: a gentle light which relieves inflammation and provides energy for cell metabolism. Suitable for people who can't take prescription medications or tolerate BBL treatment.
  • Monitoring for treatment effect, and adjusting the treatment plan if required
  • Advice on skin care and recommendations on products to manage rosacea symptoms

In complex or resistant cases of rosacea, we can refer patients to a dermatologist for a prescription for more specialised medications, vascular laser, or laser or surgical treatment for swelling of the nose.

Book a rosacea assessment appointment

Call our Melbourne CBD clinic on 03 9098 7474 after 8:30am Monday to Friday to book a rosacea assessment appointment with our doctor.